Joaquím Rodríguez is a handy domestique and right-hand man for Caisse d'Epargne team captain Alejandro Valverde. In 2006 he helped Valverde to two wins in the Ardennes - the Amstel Gold Race and La Flèche Wallonne - and he's back at Valverde's side again this year. Cyclingnews' Gregor Brown sat down with the Spaniard on the eve of Liège-Bastogne-Liège to talk about the Ardennes and the 2007 season.
Rodríguez and Valverde aren't just teammates, and after 15 years of riding together, their companionship extends beyond the races. "We have known each other for a long time, not just as riders but as friends. I think that last year we really accomplished a good thing the way we worked together for those wins."
"This year is going well," said the friendly Rodríguez as we sat down by the pool at the Post Hotel in Herstal, Belgium. The 27 year-old had hit his season's first target right on the bull's eye; he had won the one-day Klasika Primavera on April 15, and arrived in the Ardennes one week later to help Valverde to sixth place in Amstel Gold and second in Flèche Wallonne.
"I have won a race early on and now, in this Ardennes week, I feel very strong," confidently noted Rodríguez on the day before Liège. "I am going really well. I did well in Flèche but I lacked a little bit of strength in the finish but I think that that I will be able to ride a spectacular Liège.
Read the entire interview with Joaquím Rodríguez, Not your average domestique